HTC One XRating:
The HTC One X is a phone that’s had us intrigued for a while – running a quad core CPU Nvidia’s Tegra 3 plus one of the largest screens on any HTC… and that’s without being given a gargantuan name like the Titan.
It’s clear from the outset what HTC is trying to do with the One X: shake off the slight doom and gloom surrounding the brand’s fall in profits, and bring out a slick, powerful and, more importantly, useable handset that only costs £36 per month (about $57) on a two year deal.
With Ice Cream Sandwich running from the outset, this is the phone that really takes HTC to the next level – but is it a case of too much, too soon for a brand that’s still really just over a decade old?
HTC’s phones have been slowly moving towards sleeker design ever since the purchase of One & Co (which may have had more than a little to do with the new naming strategy) and the release of the HTC Legend.
Since then, unibody designs and smooth likes have been a feature of its devices, and that principle has been evolved with the HTC One X.
However, before you read any further, a note of caution: if you’re not willing to accept a pretty large phone, then you’re better off waiting for the likes of the HTC One S – the One X is a large piece of phone estate in your hand.
But it’s that large 4.7-inch screen that is such a stunning feature of the One X – it’s a 720p HD display packed into a chassis that’s only 8.9mm thick. Plus it’s also using the Super IPS LCD 2 technology that, while it lacks the vivid colour reproduction of Samsung’s Super AMOLED range, really brings games and movies to life.
We’re not going to get into the pros and cons of OLED vs LCD – suffice to say, it’s a matter of choice whether you prefer improved contrast ratios or a more true to life colour reproduction. In our opinion, both are excellent and the One X will certainly not disappoint.
Like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, it’s got a pixel density (screen sharpness) that rivals the iPhone 4S, but does it on a screen that’s over an inch larger. It’s one of those devices that you have to see to really believe, but there’s a good chance you’ll confuse it with a shop model with a static image Sellotaped onto the front.
The rest of the phone design is, again, pretty subjective. For the large size, it’s very light indeed at 130g. That’s quite a bit heavier than the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S2 (14g, in fact) but in reality you’ll consider it to be almost impossible to feel in the pocket.
The rest of the phone is pretty minimal in design. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, we’re offered some physical (well, touch sensitive) keys on the front of the HTC One X, meaning the display won’t need to jump up and down to show the contextual versions.
There’s an expected volume rocker switch on the right-hand side, a power button on the top (accompanied by a 3.5mm headphone jack) and a microUSB slot on the left-hand side – which also doubles a Mobile High-Definition Link to hook up to a TV.
It’s a very sparse offering on a phone that’s so expansive in its design, and leads to a very minimalist feel, which will likely appeal to many.
That effect is compounded by the microSIM slot on the back of the phone, which requires an Apple-esque device to open it up – and there’s no microSD support to be found here either, with the battery locked into the unibody design.
While the smaller SIM will be a slight annoyance to those upgrading from the full-size version, the lack of a microSD slot will be a big worry for many, especially as HD movies and large games will play very well on a phone like this.
There is 32GB of onboard storage, but that’s not going to be enough for the ilk of smartphone user that wouldn’t buy an iPhone until capacity was raised to 64GB.
The rear of the phone features the 8MP camera, which protrudes quite a lot from the handset, but thanks to the slightly curved nature of the chassis, doesn’t affect the phone too much when resting on a table.
The power button on the top of the phone can be quite hard to hit with the phone resting in the palm if you’ve not got the largest hands in the world, although the travel is such you’ll hit it pretty accurately most of the time, which is something some phones fail to manage.
The size is the main design issue we can see for most people – this sleek-looking, lightweight phone will appeal to both men and women, but those with smaller hands will struggle to use the HTC One X effectively without doubling down on their digits.
We reviewed the white version of the One X, and it’s worth noting that in a few hours it was quite dirty with fingerprint smudges and the like, so be warned you might want to fork out for a case too.
The HTC One X comes with a new overlay for the brand – it’s not a departure from the HTC Sense Android skin we’ve come to know and love, but it’s very much a stripped down version.
The same principles still apply though – a very different Android experience to that which you’ll find on most handsets running on the same OS, with a plethora of snazzy widgets and multiple homescreens to place them all over.
Now that the screen has the HD resolution and is boosted to a whopping 4.7 inches, there’s plenty of room to place the widgets left, right and centre. You’re still limited to seven scrollable home screens, but we doubt many people will want to go much higher than that.
The HTC One X also comes with a Tegra 3 quad core 1.5GHz processor, which to the uninitiated is the next level of mobile power packed into a smartphone. This is backed up by 1GB of RAM, and translates into a superbly slick action under the finger.
The same rotating, 3D design is apparent when you flick left and right through the homescreens, but HTC has done away with the ‘infinite rotation’ idea it’s been rocking for the last year… so when you go too far to the left, you can’t go any further.
If you want to access the homescreens in an exploded view, simply pinch in on the screen, where you can add or remove your homescreens with a simple long press.
Thanks to the fact the HTC One X is now using Android 4.0 (or Ice Cream Sandwich to you and me) the whole feel of the interface is much improved, with the new Roboto font making the appearance look much cleaner.
There have been some differences added in thanks to the new version of Android – for instance, the Settings are now accessed from the notifications bar (which can be called up by swiping down from the top of the screen from any application) rather than with a dedicated menu key (which has now been assimilated into the OS).
To compensate, there’s a new multitasking key on offer, making it easy to jump between applications. This is one of the first places the HTC One X actually displays a hint of slowdown, as popping open the 3D thumbnail list can cause a little bit of lag. Jumping between the open programs is a bit shifty as well; as it’s actually only a picture of the app you’re looking at, rather than the app itself.
This means a second or so of lag while you wait for the selected app to come to the fore – not really what you’d expect from a phone that’s meant to have one of the most powerful processors around. You can stop the app from running from this window though, simply by flicking the thumbnail skywards with a most satisying motion.
Plus, that’s one of the very few examples we can see of the HTC One X coming up with any kind of slowdown or lag – and the rest of the interface is simply marvellous.
For instance, thanks to the addition of Ice Cream Sandwich, all your notifications are now shown in a much larger and easy to see manner, with the option to get rid of anything you don’t want to look at with a simple left or right swipe. When you’ve got four different email accounts, missed calls and notifications from some apps, the last think you want is a clutter notifications bar, and this system means the end of that headache.
This new system does mean the days of being able to switch Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth on and off from the notification bar are gone – we’re not sure why this has happened with a simple update, but it’s likely Google has mandated it with Android 4.0.
The menu system has been changed AGAIN on an HTC phone (honestly, we don’t know how the company manages to keep doing this) with a new side-swipe action rather than the long list of apps scrolling vertically. It’s sometimes hard to keep track of which screen you’re on as the numbers at the bottom are a little small, and there’s also the confusion of the ‘Frequently Used’ and ‘Downloaded’ applications panes too, which look very similar.
However, HTC has cranked up the customisation options on the One X, meaning if you don’t like any given tab in most app you can simply hit the menu key, move the tabs around or get rid of them altogether.
Within the menu system there are a lot of new features too, with the likes of the Google Play store now included in the top right-hand area of the screen, making it easy to boost your app haul when you feel like it.
There are more changes afoot as well when it comes to the lock screen – the ‘fling a ring’ to unlock procedure is certainly becoming pretty iconic, and there’s more you can do with it now too. You’re already given four quick icons you can drag into the ring to activate upon unlocking, but now if you’ve got a missed call or a message you can suck that into the ring with a cool animation to open it as well.
You can even customise the lock screen so that you can see stock prices, weather updates, pictures or notifications whenever unlocking your phone – although be warned these can suck the battery a tad.
We mentioned the fact HTC has added a whole host of little flourishes to the One X that really float our boat, and one of the best is the fact that, even if it’s not permanently added the weather will pop up first thing in the morning to let you know how your day is going to pan out. Well, not totally – it’s not a psychic app, but it will help with the notion of whether you’ll need a jumper without the need to faff about asking your phone with your voice.
While all the above is well and good (very good, in fact) the question still remains: is it intuitive? Will the non-smartphone user be able to pick up the HTC One X and be able to use it easily? Well, the answer to that still has to be no – we’re not talking iPhone levels of simplicity or anything.
But that perceived weakness is also the phone’s strength – it’s so widget-tastic and simple to use once you’ve had a good play that it’s definitely one of the most intuitive and powerful interfaces out there. It’s just a matter of taste whether all the choices and things you can play with are really what you want on a smartphone.
When it comes to contact management, HTC has always been at the head of the field in our opinion. It was one of the first brands to properly manage to integrate social networking into your phonebook, and has since evolved this process to be even slicker than ever.
The same is still true on the HTC One X, which manages to present a very quick and nimble view of every contact, and is helped by the greater onus placed on this feature by Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich overhaul. We’d thoroughly recommend you log into the likes of Facebook and Twitter before even firing up the phone’s contact system, as you’ll find many of your friends will already be linked, with profile pictures too, once you go in for the first time.
As we mentioned, Contacts has been upgraded with Android 4.0, and now can only be accessed through the Phone icon on the One X, and a little slide to the right to see all your chums. The layout is so much more expansive than it was too, with the list of friends easy to read and better spaced out than before.
Simply flicking the finger down the list is the easiest way to jump from one person to the next, although there’s a little slider bar that allows you to jump to the correct letter of the alphabet if you’re in more of a hurry and just HAVE to tell your sister you saw a squirrel fall into a pond.
As any HTC user will already know, social networking and HTC Sense are close bedfellows, and we’re in love with the way each person is displayed here. Little touches, like prioritising high quality Facebook profile pictures over lo-res Twitter ones, make the device look much neater – especially as we’re now given a much larger contact snap at the top of each name.
Editing your contacts is also something of a dream on the HTC One X, as you’ve got total control over which information is shown by default. This may not sound like a big deal, but if you’ve got three different profiles (say from Google, Twitter and Facebook, as well as the phone entry) you might have multiple contact names and pictures for the same person. Therefore, being able to choose the right info is really handy.
Once in the contact profile, HTC has added a mass of information to make it into a little hub for your buddy. This means not only do you have all the contact info, but any messages or email conversations you’ve had, call history and Facebook albums too. The latter is a much-improved feature from previous HTC handsets; no longer does it take minutes to download pics from your friend’s social networks, as it’s not only a few seconds to have a good ol’ stalk of people you find semi-attractive.
HTC has once again included Contact Groups, which is a really handy feature for its devices. While most other phones allow you to have this feature simply to send out group messages and the like, on the HTC One X you can create a Favourites group to display on the home screen with pictures, or a Co-workers option which you can have as a tab in the email inbox to jump straight to the important messages.
In short: HTC has nailed the Contacts integration on the One X, and long may it continue.
Calling on the HTC One X is improved once more, albeit with some slight flaws. Signal management is generally pretty good, with the bulk of the time seeing nearly full bars from the device.
However, there was more than one occasion when the handset would completely drop all connectivity, only to fire it back up again a few seconds later. It wasn’t life-threatening, but was most irksome when trying to check to see whether Portsmouth were still losing 3-1 (they weren’t – it ended 5-1 in the end).
Call quality, however, is much better. The noise reduction system worked very well in our opinion, as someone on the other end of the phone was able to hear us easily even when walking past a building site. However, the same person complained of a lot of wind in the background, despite it being an almost completely breeze-less day. We’re not sure what to make of that, other than concluding the One X has a very sensitive microphone.
Smart dialling is also included on the HTC One X, allowing you to tap into the phone’s keypad to call up the name of your intended recipient using the same system as predictive text. We really like this feature, as it saves you having to enter the Contacts app time and again – so we suggest you learn to use it as soon as you pick up the phone.
Messaging on the HTC One X, like the Contacts app, is also top notch in our opinion. There’s the same cornucopia of messaging options: email, webmail, SMS, MMS, Google Talk, IM+… and many more if you’re going to get frisky in the Google Play store.
Setting everything up is mostly done as soon as you turn on the One X, as it’ll prompt you to sign into Google (which will instantly get you instant messaging and set up on Gmail) and then it’s an easy case of entering your user name and passwords for webmail or other email services. Some, like Exchange accounts, may require info like the domain or address of the server, so if you’re anxious to get up and running straight away we suggest a chat to your favourite grumpy IT bloke for the info.
Once you’re all set up though, the whole system is tip-top, once you have a play around with all the toys on offer. We’ve already covered the excellent feature that allows you to see which messages have been exchanged with a specific contact in the People tab, and in the messaging app itself we’re now treated to larger conversation bubbles, thanks to Google’s Android 4.0 system and the larger screen.
The keyboard HTC developed all those years ago is still one of the best on the market, allowing even the most fudge-fingered of users to see their intended words spring up before their very eyes. HTC seems to have done a little work on improving the accuracy here, as we were more impressed that ever with the level of functionality on offer.
It’s not the best keyboard to be found for Android phones (we suggest you check out the like of Swiftkey X in the Google Play portal, as it learns the way you type to offer some very clever next word predictions) but the built-in keyboard is going to be more than good enough for most people.
There are still a couple of gripes we found with it – for instance, when typing at speed you’ll find you may hit the full stop key instead of the space bar more often than you’d like. This can be rectified though if you spend some time calibrating the keyboard in the settings menu…although we’re not sure many people will ever drill down that far to find it.
There’s also the issue of the landscape keyboard not allowing you to see the message you’re replying to, although we’re not really sure how that one could be fixed given how large the keys are on the screen (and obviously, easier to hit, which will entice many).
Facebook and Twitter come pre-installed on the HTC One X, and while it’s annoying there’s no central hub to reply to these messages and DMs offline, you still get excellent notifications that speedily come through from the interwebs. Peep (HTC’s old own-brand Twitter client) has thankfully bitten the dust on the One X, meaning no more messages popping up hours later after being sent).
One other big upgrade from HTC on the One X and its new version of Sense is the ability to open a message from the lock screen. It was so frustrating before seeing a whacking great icon proclaiming someone wanted to talk to you, only for you to have to unlock the phone and drill down to the messaging app to see it. Now, a simple drag into the iconic HTC ring will open the message straight away – it’s nice to see a brand responding to fans’ criticisms.
The email client on the HTC One X is also still very good in our opinion, as it supports most features we’re looking for. Smart tags to open numbers and websites is on offer, as is the ability to see threaded messages in a much more user-friendly format than before.
HTC has reduced the amount of information going on with this app from previous iterations, so you’ll only see the information that you class as pertinent. So from being able to much more easily select multiple messages to delete, to being able to jump between accounts with a single tap on the account name in the corner, you’ll find using an HTC as your primary email device will be one of the better experiences.
There’s also a new feature called ‘Smart Sync’, which allows you to stop worrying about the frequency of your messaging updates and let the phone work out how often you’re checking your emails, and updating the inbox accordingly. It’s a fancy feature, but we didn’t notice much in the way of battery saving on the One X.
Internet browsing on HTC handsets has always been a pretty pleasurable experience, and that’s still the case on the HTC One X, especially with that whopping great screen to play around with. HTC has also upgraded the Android browser (thanks to the updates on offer from Ice Cream Sandwich) and the result is a mobile internet experience that packs a lot of desktop punch.
However, the first thing you’ll notice is the rendering speed of the One X internet browser isn’t particularly stellar. In our tests, we found that the overall loading speed of most websites was around a couple of seconds quicker than usual, which is what you’d expect with the Tegra 3 processor running things. But in terms of the time it took to actually see the words on the page of the site we were navigating to it wasn’t as quick an experience.
In fact, while the early loading speeds were fine, over both 3G and Wi-Fi connections we were a bit disappointed by the speed with which we could jump between sites on the One X.
It’s not terrible – far from it – but we were hoping that the quad core processor would offer some blisteringly fast speeds.
Let’s not get too down about that though, as there’s plenty more to get excited about here. For instance, the web pages look simply beautiful on the large 4.7-inch HD screen of the One X, with text legible even at full zoom.
Pictures look particularly dazzling as well, with the high-res nature of the web browser allowing you to get a decent overview of the page with a swift glance.
Once you get into reading an article on a site, the HTC One X comes into its own – as many HTC phones have done over the years.
For instance, there’s the excellent text re-flow system that still leaves all other Android phones in its dust – double tap on any section of text and it will re-jig itself to fit the screen.
You might say any phone these days does that, and you’d be right; but the HTC One X can take things one step further.
Pinch to zoom in even further, and the text will still reformat itself to fit on the screen, no matter how big the letters get, which means unlike the iPhone 4S, you can choose how big your reading experience is.
Speaking of Apple, HTC has stolen the ‘Reader’ feature from Safari – simply tap this icon at the top of any web article and it will jump into a new window with only the text and the minimum amount of pictures for company, making it easier to digest.
There’s sadly no option to take this offline at the moment, but we hope that will get added in at some point.
Flash is still supported on the HTC One X’s web browser, although we don’t think it’s going to be available on other phones too far in the future as Adobe seems to have given up on the system somewhat. However, there’s an easy toggle in the Settings that allows you to turn Flash video on and off, meaning you can speed up the web experience quite dramatically.
The Settings section has been given something of an overhaul too, with the excellent addition of ‘Desktop mode’ allowing you to bypass the annoying mobile sites if you so wish (and with this larger screen, we reckon you will frequently).
Some things have stayed the same thankfully – namely the bookmarks lists that makes it so easy to keep track of the sites you browse to the most frequently. Not only are your bookmarks clearly presented as thumbnails of the web page itself, but you’re also offered a ‘Most Visited’ pane that lets you pick the sites the browser has noticed you trot along to frequently.
You can also save websites to view later – while this is a feature that’s been around for a while, you can perform the same trick with web video now too. Sadly, still no support for offline reading, which is a bit sad, as that’s something the HTC’s of yesteryear used to love to offer
Media on the HTC One X is, predictably, a great experience. We’ve moaned about certain aspects of the music and video player before, and while they’ve not all been addressed, we’re still happy that they’ve at least been evolved.
We’ll get a big problem out of the way first though: there’s no expandable memory card slot on offer here, with HTC ramming in 32GB of storage to compensate. This will probably be enough for most people, but there are those that really love to pack their devices with media, and hate the thought of having to pick and choose because of storage limitations.
Also, don’t forget that HD screen now supports HD movies too – with Google Play now supporting HD rentals and movie purchases, you’ll quite quickly fill up the internal memory if you’re not careful.
The music player on the HTC One X is improved massively from the standard offering on the likes of the HTC Hero from just three years ago – there’s a new and re-tooled option to play with here, and it comes with high resolution album art and SoundHound integration.
The latter feature is a particularly good addition, as it allows you seemingly unlimited amounts of songs you can have listened to and get information back on. Simply tag the icon at the top of each song and you’ll be able to get lyric information, local gigs from the artist and info on the album if you fancied buying it.
However, and this seems like a massively missed trick again, you can’t have the album information ported to the file you’re listening to. When you consider that many people have a horrendously mis-managed MP3 collection, this would have been a godsend.
While we’re on that, there’s a wide range of format for playback on offer: AAC, AMR, OGG, M4A, MID, MP3, WAV and WMA if you’re interested.
Let’s get onto the better stuff though: the music player itself, boosted by Beats Audio integration. The interface is still very simple, which is important to many. There’s a home screen widget that lets you see which songs you’ve listened to recently, but even if you’ve bothered to update all your album art, this seems like more of a gimmick than anything else.
We weren’t given any Beats Audio headphones on our review HTC One X sample, but we’re told they will be coming to the final retail version. We luckily had a set kicking around and the difference between Beats Audio boosting being on and off was startling.
We’ve heard many opinions on whether the service is really as good as the likes of Dolby for improving sound, or whether it just makes everything sound very bass-heavy. We think it’s somewhere in between: you’ll notice a massive difference in sound quality when it comes to having the enhancement on and off, and that goes for mid-range and treble, not just bass.
However, it does tend to make songs sound overly complex at times, so it really comes down to personal preference as to whether Beats Audio is a real plus – but in our eyes, it very much is.
The Beats Audio booster is also now pervasive throughout the phone too, so other apps, like Spotify or the video player, will get to use the upgrade in sound quality.
The main music player home page is much more of a hub than ever before, with the addition of 7 Digital, SoundHound and TuneIn radio all designed to make it much more of a media experience.
Curiously, you can also add other apps in here, and not just those around music – for instance, a link to your favourite game or the Google Play Movie portal.
The effect is a little overwhelming at the start – it’s certainly a mile away from the simplicity of iOS or Windows Phone. However, if you’re into choice and music hubs when it comes to deciding how you’re going to get some tunes inside your brain, this is going to rock your world.
HTC has been annoying us for years with the way it presents its videos, and while this has been slightly upgraded, it’s still just rubbish.
You enter the Gallery (no video player as a standalone app here) and you’re faced with any video folders you’ve created (that’s the update)… but no filenames, only large thumbnails.
That’s fine if you’ve got a hugely diverse video collection that looks radically different for each movie, but if you’re watching a series it gives you no information at all.
We recommend you download a new application immediately (mVideoPlayer is our pick thanks to an excellent bookmarking system) and improve your HTC One X post-haste.
Thankfully the movie playback experience is a lot, lot better than the one for trying to find the right file. Firstly, the video quality looks superb on the HTC One X screen, with a sharp definition to everything you want to watch.
Lower-light scenes aren’t the best if we’re honest though, and that’s where the Super LCD technology seems to struggle. It’s not rubbish, and much better than a lot of the phones on the market, but for your darker movies the Samsung Galaxy S2 is still the phone we’d turn to every time.
The main video player app also allows you to stream out to a smart TV or computer thanks to the inbuilt DLNA (the same system can be used to connect up to a Wi-Fi device or Bluetooth speaker in the Music app) which makes watching a film on the train then instantly popping it up to a large screen TV when you walk through the door an ace experience.
HTC’s not quite managed to live up to its promise of supported file types though, as while we managed to drop MP4 and 3GP file types onto the device without a problem, AVI files refused to play despite being listed as compatible.
In terms of getting content onto the HTC One X, that’s a little trickier, as if you’re limited to Google Play Movies, or the HTC Watch service. The former is good in that it allows you to download HD films; however the selection is limited and the cost is nearly £5 (about £8) just to RENT one of them, let alone buy it.
HTC Watch is slightly better, in that it’s better integrated into the phone already (with a much nicer widget to use) and has special offers than allow you to rent films from as little as 5 pence (about 8 cents) on occasion. However, the selection is lower and there’s no HD content on there yet.
The HTC One X is a great device for video playback, with rich colours, an excellent frame rate to minimise blur, and Beats Audio providing pretty rich sound (although we’d have preferred a spot of Dolby Mobile in there too.)
However, the navigation system needs to be sorted out somewhat, and the opportunity to get content on there needs to be boosted as well.
We couldn’t jump through the media section without a nod to the FM radio – sure it’s a little archaic these days, but it’s a pretty good rendition on the HTC One X.
A simple scan found 12 stations in less than 10 seconds, which we consider to be pretty speedy considering we’ve watched the process take minutes. The One X doesn’t save them under their names (despite RDS being included) and there’s no opportunity to record radio or transmit the sounds via FM to a car stereo.
However, it’s a visual treat and hold stations very well through Beats Audio headphones, so if you’re into radio on the go you’ll like this a lot.
Camera & Video
The HTC One X has an 8MP camera on the back of the device, with a 1.3MP sensor on the front. The rear of the phone also packs a single LED flash, and enhanced optics to help increase the depth of photo.
HTC has made great strides with its camera software over the years, but with the One X it’s really outdone itself, allowing users to create so many more varied styles of photos and using the raw power of the quad core processor to good effect.
There are two sides to the camera – the large amount of settings you can tweak to actually get the photo in the first place, and the effects you can place on top to alter the output.
We’ll concentrate on the former first: you can tweak a vast number of settings from within the handset to help improve your picture quality on the go. Exposure, colour saturation and sharpness can all be controlled by separate slider bars, and a simple tap anywhere on the screen will auto-calibrate the brightness levels and focus on the desired object within a second.
There’s no dedicated shutter button, but if you’ve got the camera set up as one of the icons on your lock screen you can whip the phone out of your pocket and be snapping away in just under two seconds. It’s not the fastest on the market, but in real world tests we found it to be quick enough never to miss any important moments.
There are a variety of scene modes on offer as well – and these aren’t the bog standard ‘firework’ or ‘beach’ scenes that everyone intends to use but never gets round to. We’re talking the High Dynamic Range option, which takes a number of brightness levels from a single photo and interpolates them to make the best quality image, or a macro mode that can scarily close to any object.
The HDR mode is a little bit of a letdown if we’re honest, as it can blur very easily while processing the photo – it’s nowhere near the level of Apple’s HDR photography, which has been wowing us for some time now.
The other effects are very easy to use though – you can do things like simply making your photo black and white or covered in sepia, or you can get a little bit fancier and alter the depth of field to blur out the edges of a shot and only focus on the object at the centre of the photograph.
And on top of that there’s the fantastic shutter speed as well – you can set the HTC One X to capture photos at the rate of around 10 per second, allowing you to get some cracking motion shots.
Not all the pics come out clearly, but overall the option can be used well.
Normal shutter speed, with the auto focus on and flash in play, is a little slow – we clocked around four seconds between each photo, which isn’t terrible but can be bettered by the competition.
- In bright light, the HTC One X captures all the detail on offer
- Images look sharp and colourful, although can be a little grainy
- Tapping the screen allows you to correct light levels and pick out detail
- Here we see three zoom levels: the quality is still impressive at maximum zoom
- Panorama mode is easy to use thanks to the on screen instructions
- The LED flash is bright enough to capture all objects, but not wash out the scene
- A quick snap straight out the pocket shows the HTC One X is a great day to day camera
The HTC One X can record in 1080p from the rear sensor, and 720P HD from the front camera. In short, we can’t see you ever wanting to go any higher on the resolution front… but we know we’re going to regret that statement in a few short months when the next level of cameraphone emerges.
There are a number of cool features on the HTC One X when it comes to video recording: for instance, you can capture in slow motion, or while shooting in Full HD at 30 frames per second you can take pictures while recording.
This is a really awesome feature when you want to both film and photograph at the same time.
You can even take pictures while viewing video back after it’s been shot – that’s the sort of thing that had our friends wowed down the pub.
However, the overall video quality wasn’t wow-worthy when shoved onto a larger screen – it seemed a little grainy in our eyes, and the sound recorded from the dual microphones didn’t really do the power of the phone justice.
It’s not awful, but not the smooth footage other cameraphones are able to manage from dual-core processors.
Battery Life & Connectivity
The HTC One X comes with an 1800mAh battery that’s unfortunately sealed within the chassis of the phone – meaning no chance of being able to swap it out in the event of a power-outage on the go.
Sadly, and this is one the major failings of the HTC One X, the battery life on this device follows many others from the HTC range: meaning it’s terrible.
We were actually shocked to see how poorly it fared at times, with one instance requiring us to charge the phone twice in one day and still running it down before the evening. However, before you completely give up on the One X at all, we should qualify that statement a little bit as it’s unlikely you’ll experience the same thing.
When we test any mobile phone we obviously run it through many tests and try to work out what the main selling points of it will be. With the HTC One X, we found there to be so many plus points that we really had to run the device hard to test it all out, leading to a quicker battery run-through than usual.
For instance on the fateful ‘Two Charge’ day, we downloaded three movies from HTC Watch, played a number of Tegra 3 compatible games, watched said movies and went for a run with the GPS turned on – plus messed around with most of the features.
This is very atypical usage, so we doubt many people will ever achieve the same power rate as we did – but we believe that if a phone has something worth doing, then the battery should hold up, and even with medium usage levels, the battery powered down by about 11PM at the latest. Having seen the same sort of output from the HTC Desire and Desire HD, we also know that the phone will likely start to do more poorly over time as well.
The reason for this is the screen – it’s sucking a huge amount of power, likely because the graphical processing power needed to fire all those new pixels is really taxing the device. It’s also a new type of technology for the firm, and it seems that HTC hasn’t quite worked out how to optimise it yet.
Playing powerful games predictably drained a lot of power too – for instance, playing RipTide for 15 minutes caused the One X to heat up quite a bit and drained 5% of the overall battery power, which is more than a little worrying.
Calling seemed to take the same level of power as well, as did movie watching for extended periods. If you’re not going to use the phone very much, then you’ll likely sail through a day on a single charge, but given that this is an awesome powerhouse of a device we’re really, really disappointed that the battery is the one thing that’s really letting it down.
We hoped that the first samples might have had faulty battery meters, but we recalibrated it and still got the same results. It’s a real shame, and a factor any user should really think about before picking up this otherwise practically flawless phone.
The HTC One X comes jam packed with every top-end connection we can think of – be it Wi-Fi 802.11n (the fastest kind) to Bluetooth 4.0, it’s all present and correct under the hood.
The addition of Bluetooth 4.0 is particularly exciting, as it means the One X will be able to take advantage of a number of cool accessories coming onto the market soon.
What is Bluetooth?
This means personal area networks, allowing easy connection to a range of sensors and devices within proximity, will be easy to achieve and will make the One X the centre of your connected world. If you want to find out more, check out our ‘What is Bluetooth?‘ feature that explains it all.
There’s also a first from the Taiwanese brand in the shape of NFC, brought in to take advantage of Google’s Android Beam service. Right now it’s a pretty rudimentary offering – all you can realistically do is tap the One X against another Ice Cream Sandwich-enabled phone (with an NFC chip inside, obviously) and share things like Map directions, YouTube videos and contact details.
You have to activate the service on both devices and then tap to make the connection, and in truth it’s a little cumbersome and not as cool as this video would have you believe. However, once NFC becomes mainstream in the next year, you’ll be able to take advantage of contactless payments and a wider gamut of connectivity options, so stay tuned for that.
We’ve already mentioned the DLNA software that’s built right into the HTC One X – for those of you unfamiliar with the term, this means you can connect the device up to a internet-enabled Smart TV or computer and stream content from your phone easily across. The fact it’s within the media player is a really nice touch, as it means you don’t need to jump out to another application as you have to with the Samsung Galaxy S2 at times.
In terms of wired connections, the HTC One X will also let you connect up to a TV using a MHL lead, which is sadly not supplied in the box. This mini HDMI connection uses the same microUSB port that powers your phone, which makes it really easy to mirror the content on the tiny HD screen on a much larger one.
If there’s one thing HTC has definitely got right with the One X in our eyes, that’s the inbuilt applications. There are far too many for us to mention here, but from things like the weather forecast popping up when you pick your phone up in the morning to being able to use the internet radio from within the music player, the One X is a phone that feels very seamless at times.
Some people don’t like ‘bloatware’ (apps pre-installed that they might not want) but we think the mix is pretty good. HTC has set up a number of partnerships that really expand the functionality of the phone – for instance, Dropbox with 23GB of additional storage.
This means your new phone comes with a massive storage locker in the cloud to keep all your content backed up – and you can even auto-sync your movies and photos, in the same way as PhotoStream works on Apple’s iCloud service. There’s also EverNote included out of the box, meaning you’re less likely to forget appointments in the future thanks to the synchronised system.
Notes is another really clever application – it’s not got the cool geo-locational functionality of its iPhone counterpart, but it allows you to write, record and connect with your calendar to swiftly and easy keep a track of your life on the go.
Car Mode has had an overhaul as well, allowing large icons for applications like Phone, Maps Navigation, Music and Internet radio – plus a large clock icon with weather and easy access to connections.
Swiping left and right will bring up the apps with large font information, such as upcoming appointments in the Maps app that can be associated with directions to said meeting. It’s a very handy mode, and one that will work well when the dock is finally released for the phone too.
We could go through and list all the apps on offer here, but we think it’s best you go in and have a play. Some will irk you (7Digital is far too expensive in our eyes, and the Movie Editor does very little other than make a mess of your photos and videos) but there are other excellent choices like those we’ve listed above, and we think overall HTC has got the mix right.
Maps & Gaming
There are two mapping options on the HTC One X – usually we get annoyed at the confusion, but this time we think the two sit next to each other rather nicely. Google Maps 6.5 has been released for this ilk of devices especially, with high resolution maps on offer to make the experience a really visually arresting on when zooming in on the streets of London or New York.
You’ve got all the usual wonderful features here – 3D buildings that you can swipe around using multi-finger gestures, a free sat nav service with traffic guidance, and now even the ability to search through public transport networks to help get you to where you need to go. And that’s without talking about the excellent Streetview service, allowing you to glide around the map in a photo-like environment.
However, and this is something we didn’t expect, the mapping software on the HTC One X seems slower than the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S2, which has a slower and less powerful processor chugging things along. It’s not hugely noticeable, but in real terms you don’t get that buttery-smooth feeling we’re used to with these kinds of devices.
HTC Locations is another ball game altogether and one that you probably won’t be using all that often. It’s mostly a sat-nav service, but one that’s far more in-depth than the Google maps Navigation offering that most will use.
With HTC Locations you’re given access to speed cameras, more in-depth traffic and voice guidance from a larger range of personalities. It’s also got wide-ranging information on cash machines, petrol stations and more – and you can download the maps to enable offline viewing of practically anywhere in the world.
The only real downside is the fact you’ve got to pay for most of it – we highly doubt many will fork out £4 a month to get access to most of the features on offer here. It’s a good service, but one that’s mostly out-flanked by Google Maps.
Gaming on the HTC One X is something that we think deserves a special mention as it brings such a new level of realism to a mobile phone. We’re talking console-quality graphics on a handset for the first time, and graphical processing power that shares a lot of traits with the PS Vita, for instance.
We tried a number of Nvidia Tegra-optimised games on the One X, and they all shared one thing in common: they looked better than anything that we’ve ever seen on a mobile phone and had a greater level of detail too.
The downside is that all the games so far are really nowhere near the gameplay level of a console game; for instance, RipTide is a splendid Jet Ski game that whips through underwater tunnels and jumps with dizzying speeds. The water effects are sublime, and the physics that knock your craft around are on another level when it comes to the mobile.
But the graphics still look cheap in places, meaning the water will lap over objects and not interact with them – nor will gravity play a proper part in the gameplay. What we’re trying to say is that the games are excellent and the power is clearly there, but there’s a lot of potential left to be exploited when it comes to titles that really push the quad-core power of phones like this.
Of course, there’s a bundle of casual games that look amazing on a phone like the One X – Angry Birds and Cut the Rope look phenomenal, and the likes of Draw Something really benefit from the larger screen size. Gaming is going to be huge on the HTC One X we think… it’s just a shame the battery isn’t able to keep up at times.
Hands on Gallery
When we got our hands on the HTC One X, it was a mix of trepidation and excitement. How would our first quad core phone on test fare? Could HTC make an HD screen fit well into a phone? Would we get annoyed at the lack of a microSD slot?
We’ve answered all those questions and more in this in-depth review, and it’s clear that the HTC One X is a top-notch phone – but one that just, just misses out on being the third member of the five star phone clan due to having a really poor battery.
Oh, where do we begin? The super-thin chassis. The HD screen. The beautiful graphics. The next-generation Android platform, all rolled into one.
Essentially, this is EXACTLY the kind of phone we want to see at the top end of its range if it wants to stay relevant in the smartphone business. Fusing top level CPU power with a beautiful screen (and a whopping one at that) and really thinking about how it wants to strip back its skin on top of the latest version of Android without compromising its identity.
Then there’s the likes of integrated DropBox storage, Beats Audio enhancements and the upgraded music player. Plus the improved lock screen, the speedier internet browser and the camera that’s among the most feature-rich on the market.
We say this is EXACTLY the phone HTC needed to make, except it forgot one crucial thing: make the phone last a whole day if users want to play with all the features on offer.
The battery life is such a shame here – there are other niggles, like the fact the touchscreen doesn’t always wake up as soon as you unlock the phone, or the fact it can get a little slow when bunch of apps are open, but we could have looked past them as they’re highly intermittent problems.
But for a phone that’s touted as coming with a ‘Battery Saver Core’ we can’t understand why it’s so heavy on the power drain when in use. Sure, in idle mode the HTC One X survives just fine… but we don’t buy a phone to not use it.
If we have a GPU with 12 cores, then we want to have a gaming session that lasts more than 2 and a half hours. If you give us an HD screen, make it so downloading a movie then watching it isn’t the only thing the phone can do before we need to charge again.
Here’s some more articles you might like:
- iPhone 5 vs Lumia 920 vs Galaxy S3 vs HTC One X – Battle of the smartphones
- HTC patent claim: Could the iPhone 5 and iPad be banned in US?
- HTC Desire X Early Hands-on Expert Review
- HTC ‘phablet’ and Endeavour C2 in the pipeline
- HTC Desire C Smartphone Expert Review
- Beautiful graphics
- Next-Gen Android platform
- Super-thin chassis
- Beats Audio
- Niggly Touchscreen
- Battery Life
Let’s not beat around the bush here: we love the HTC One X. You can see how we feel about the battery life, but it’s not an insurmountable problem… it’s just frustrating that you’ll have to be frugal at times with your smartphone usage to get through the day.
But beyond that the HTC One X is a beautiful piece of kit. It’s stylishly designed, light, has a cracking screen and comes with enough future-proofing to make us believe our grandchildren may still have one.
The fact it’s rocking the latest version of Android will appeal to many too – except those that don’t want to get involved with the complexity of Google’s OS.
It’s not a tricky system to learn, but whether you buy the HTC One X will come down to two things: do you want a phone that rewards you the more you explore its features? And can you live with an iffy battery life?
If the answer is yes to both of these questions, run down to your local retailer and pick up an HTC One X. You won’t be disappointed.
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